This Isolated Italian Island Is Perfect For Travelers Seeking A Wild Escape

A morsel of raw and untamed beauty, tiny Alicudi is the westernmost and least developed island in Italy's Aeolian archipelago. It has the smallest population of all the Aeolian Islands, with only around 100 full-time residents. Underscoring the island's remoteness (and some would say, allure), motorized vehicles are lacking on the island. But don't worry. If you need to get your huge suitcase to the top of a steep hill, you can always flag down a donkey.

One could say that Alicudi is the serenity capital of the Aeolian islands. Missing on Alicudi is the panache of the glitziest Island, Panarea, and the island lacks the theatrics of Stromboli, whose active volcano spouts regular fountains of lava. It's also a far cry from Salina, considered one of the most romantic getaways in the world. But Alicudi's heather-covered hills and rocky beaches exude their own kind of poetic magic. For nature lovers and contemplative souls who really want to get away from it all — especially the traffic, crowds, and noise of busier Mediterranean islands — this might be a good place to get stranded for a while. 

Exploring Alicudi

To explore the interior of Alicudi, strike out on foot from the pebbled shores of Alicudi Porto, where the island's few restaurants and other services are located. From the port, old stone paths climb the terraced hillsides, weaving between traditional Aeolian homes. As you gain elevation, the views of the ocean and the nearby island of Filicudi grow more magnificent while the island's flora and fauna reveal themselves. House cats lounge lazily in the sun, alongside patches of the island's signature heather. You'll also see prickly pear cactus, fruit trees, ferns, and orchids, as well as maybe a wild goat or a majestic soaring falcon. 

The hillside path also represents a kind of pilgrimage, passing important spiritual sites as it ascends: first, the lovely Church of San Bartolo, one of the island's important historical landmarks, and a little higher up, the honey-colored Church of Madonna del Carmine. For more adventurous types, the trek continues to the summit of the island's (now extinct) volcano, Mount Filo dell'Arpa. Standing at the top of the island more than 2,000 feet above sea level, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the sparkling sea and distant islands. 

The beaches and coastline of Alicudi

Besides wandering the hills, visitors should also take time to discover Alicudi's enchanting coast. While powder-white sands and private cabanas are not to be found here, a rocky stretch of beach is located south of the port, providing a delightful spot for hanging out by the sea or swimming. From the port, you can also walk north for less than a mile to another idyllic beach, Bazzina, where the remarkably clear water and interesting seabed are ideal for snorkeling. Inquire locally about hiring a boat to take you on a tour of Alicudi's coastline. Request to stop at Scoglio Galera, a striking rock formation on the western shore that resembles a dragon's head. This is yet another fantastic place for a refreshing swim in crystal-clear waters. 

Ferries regularly travel between the cities of Palermo and Milazzo in Sicily to Alicudi. The trip from Palermo to the island takes about two hours, whereas, from Milazzo, the trip is three to five hours, depending on the size of the vessel. Overnight visitors to Alicudi can choose between a few different guest houses and hotels. There's also the option of a day trip to Alicudi via a boat excursion from nearby Filicudi, another breathtaking Italian island with unmatched natural beauty. Keep in mind, though, that a rushed group tour may defeat the purpose here. If you can, stick around for a while, and allow Alicudi to cast her soft spells on you.